County school budget includes employee raises

Robert Houk • Jun 13, 2019 at 1:00 AM

The Washington County Budget Committee approved a balanced $70.5 million budget for county schools on Wednesday that includes a 2 percent pay increase for all school employees.

Director of Schools Bill Flanary told the committee the county’s Board of Education has voted to take $1.8 million out of its general fund reserves to balance the budget. He said the new proposal includes $1.1 million to cover pay raises for all employees and a 1% mandated step increase for teachers.

“I feel good about what we’ve been able to do for our people,” Flanary said.

The schools director said he wasn’t happy about the cuts the school system would be forced to make to balance the budget for the new fiscal year, which begins on July 1. He said he must cut four unfilled teaching positions in the new budget, as well as reduce five academic coaching positions.

Even with nearly $1.6 million in cuts to the proposed budget, Commissioner Freddie Malone noted the school system’s spending would be up 2 percent in the new fiscal year.

“We can’t sustain a 2 percent increase each year with current revenues,” county Mayor Joe Grandy said. 

The Budget Committee approved a new $42 million county general fund budget last week that is also balanced with spending cuts and reserve funds. The proposed 2019-20 budget includes $345,000 to cover 2% pay raises for courthouse employees.

Washington County officials will hold a public hearing on the county’s proposed new budgets at a meeting June 20 at 9 a.m. in Courtroom 7 of the George P. Jaynes Justice Center. Approving the new budget, as well as setting the county’s new property tax rate, will be on the County Commission’s agenda for its June 24 meeting.

Mitch Meredith, the county’s director of finance and administration, said recent reappraisals and equalization will result in the county’s certified property tax rate going from $2.37 per every $100 of assessed value to $2.15 per every $100 of assessed value. He said the lower certified rate would still bring in the same amount of total property tax dollars as that collected in the current budget year.

The new property tax rate will see 67 cents going to the general fund, 74 cents to schools, 14 cents to the county’s Highway Department, 37 cents to debt service, 3 cents to solid waste and 20 cents to the capital projects fund. 

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